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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: 2017 CWS run cements Texas A&M as elite program

Mitchell+Kilkenny+dumps+an+ice+bucket+of+Powerade+on+A%26amp%3BM+head+coach+Rob+Childress+and+Joel+Davis+in+celebration+of+the+Super+Regional+win.
Photo by By Alex Miller

Mitchell Kilkenny dumps an ice bucket of Powerade on A&M head coach Rob Childress and Joel Davis in celebration of the Super Regional win.

It would have been easy for Texas A&M to treat 2017 as a rebuilding year.
After all, the Aggies lost a whopping 13 players to the MLB Draft following last year’s Super Regional run, including the SEC Player of the Year Boomer White, nearly their whole starting lineup and bullpen, and had a 2017 roster littered with underclassmen.
But, like any great program, they reloaded instead.
Even with three freshmen and a sophomore starting on opening day, Texas A&M won nine of its first ten games and proceeded to finish third in the SEC West, win the Houston Regional as the No. 3 seed and then beat Davidson to advance to the College World Series.
The incredible run to Omaha proved that not only was the 2017 season terrific, but it was even more evidence that Rob Childress has built Texas A&M into an elite college baseball program.
First, let’s start with the most important step in becoming an elite program: on-field success. Since 2010, the Aggies are one of only 11 schools to sport a .670 winning percentage with at least two trips to Omaha. They are one of only six schools to make it to the Super Regional in each of the last three seasons.
It is incredibly difficult to make it to the Super Regional even once — it takes a lot of talent, a few good breaks and sometimes a bit of good fortune — which is why only 16 teams advance that far each season. The fact that only a small handful of teams have made it to three-straight proves how special A&M’s streak is.
Meanwhile, in today’s version of college baseball where more schools are spending more money on their baseball programs and parity is at an all-time high, sustaining dominance year after year is tougher than ever. Consider this: South Carolina made three straight trips to the CWS from 2010-2012, winning back-to-back National Championships in the process, but have not been to Omaha since then. The Gamecocks haven’t even made the postseason in two of the past three years and recently fired head coach Chad Holbrook.
UCLA put together several fantastic seasons in a row, making it to Omaha three times in four years from 2010-2013, but have missed the postseason in two of the last three seasons. In the year they did make the postseason, they lost in the Regional despite being the No. 1 national seed.
Coastal Carolina, last year’s CWS champion with several of its players returning, was left out of the field of 64 this time around after a disappointing season. Andrew Beckwith, who made himself an Omaha legend with his dominance on the mound in 2016, was not nearly as effective this year and the Chanticleers never got it together.
The examples of transient success are endless in college baseball, and there are only a few select programs that can sustain a high level of excellence.
Texas A&M has become one of those teams under Childress, who is arguably the best pitching coach in the country.
What Childress has done in the past few years has been nothing short of sensational. He gets the most out of seemingly every pitcher that comes under his guidance. Whether it was Matt Kent dominating down the stretch in 2015, a sophomore Brigham Hill taking over as the Friday night starter in 2016 after being a little-known middle reliever the year before or Kaylor Chafin bursting onto the scene as one of the most dominant relievers in the country, Childress can coach pitching.
He can also recruit and, as the Aggies have experienced more and more success — and continue to consistently send players to the MLB Draft — so has Childress and recruiting coordinator Justin Seely’s production on the recruiting trail.
Despite losing high school pitching studs Alex Scherff, Jack Conlon and Tylor Fischer, as well as Canadian shortstop recruit Adam Hall, to professional baseball, the Aggies will have several newcomers ready to contribute in 2018, most notably JUCO player of the year Michael Helman and Zachary DeLoach.
The Aggies made it to Omaha this year despite losing seven of nine players from their starting lineup from the year before, including A&M stars like Nick Banks, Michael Barash and Boomer White.
And it appears that even with the loss of frontline starting pitchers Brigham Hill and Corbin Martin and outfielders Nick Choruby, Blake Kopetsky and Walker Pennington from this year’s squad, the Aggies are primed to make another run in 2018 and likely most years after that.
Childress and the A&M coaching staff are an essential part of A&M’s recent success. Childress is arguably the best pitching coach in America, Seely is known as one of the best recruiters in the country and the Aggies have advanced to the Super Regional in all three years that Will Bolt has served as the hitting and third-base coach.
That trio, as well as catcher’s coach Jake Carlson, make it a point to form relationships with their players and teach them valuable life lessons that will benefit them after their baseball careers end as well as when they wear the Maroon and White.
JB Moss, one of the seniors from the 2016 team, called the A&M coaching staff the “greatest collection of men in this sport.” Upon signing with the Houston Astros, Martin wrote on Twitter that Childress is “the best man and coach to [play] under.”
Childress masterfully led his team through the many peaks and valleys the Aggies experienced in 2017 and handled his pitching staff with tremendous aplomb. The decision to start Martin in the CWS opener against Louisville did not work out, but it gave A&M its best chance to win the national championship and should not be second-guessed.

Even though Childress has not won the College World Series yet in his 12 years at the helm — and it’s hard to surf Twitter or various online forums without seeing criticism of the Aggies’ coach — he should be respected and praised, not disparaged. 
The bottom line is that with their blend of consistent on-field success, production on the recruiting trail and sending players to the professional ranks, the Aggies have put themselves into the small group of elite schools who have a chance to win it all at the start of every season.
In other words, don’t expect Texas A&M to go through a rebuilding year anytime soon as long as Childress is calling the shots.

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  • Childress meets with his players at the mound. 

  • The A&M baseball team celebrates together on the mound after defeating Davidson to advance to the 2017 College World Series.

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